The First Lutheran Church will host the ninth annual Boston Bach Birthday on Saturday, March 18. In 2017, this hotly anticipated event celebrates not only the 332nd birthday of Johann Sebastian Bach, but also the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. As always, all musical events are free and open to the public (balcony seating available for $20 at the door), and concertgoers may come and go as they please. An authentic German lunch will be served at noon in the FLC undercroft (tickets are available for $15 here at Eventbrite).
Each year the Boston Bach Birthday prominently features First Lutheran Church’s brilliant Richards, Fowkes & Co. opus 10 pipe organ. Five of the day’s programs comprise performances on the organ. This year’s organists include John Robinson, Brink Bush, Jonathan Wessler, Jennifer Hsaio, Laura Gullett, Khristian Erich Bauer-Rowe, and Christopher Holman, who presides over the Hildebrandt-style Bach organ at Christ the King Lutheran Church in Houston. Instrumental and vocal performances will feature harpsichordist Bálint Karosi and Bach researcher Christoph Wolff in a combination recital/dialogue; violinist Kate Arndt, flautist Gergely Ittzés, and baritone Ethan Sagin.
The children’s event at 10:00am will be a dramatic reading of Casey At the Bat, with creative organ accompaniment culminating in a rousing sing-along of Take Me Out To the Ballgame. As usual, children will be invited to come to the organ loft to see the organ up close.
The day will end with the next service in First Lutheran Church’s Bach Vespers series, modeled after those Bach might have held in the 1730s. The Reverend James Hopkins of the Lutheran Church of the Way in Raynham will officiate and preach on the lessons for Oculi (the third Sunday in Lent). Alto Carolyn Balkovetz and a period orchestra will perform Bach’s cantata for Oculi, Widerstehe doch der Sünde, BWV 54. The Choir of The First Lutheran Church will additionally sing a Psalm motet by Andreas Hammerschmidt and a stunning string-accompanied Magnificat by Heinrich Schütz, and the congregation will join in singing the classic confessional Lutheran chorales From Depths of Woe I Cry To Thee and May God Bestow On Us His Grace. (Due to space restrictions, balcony seating is unavailable for Vespers.)